Greece gets debt deal for third bailout

Athens, July 13 (IANS) Greece received the debt deal reached at the euro summit in Brussels on Monday over the terms of the third Greek bailout with mixed reactions of relief and disappointment.

Speaking to the media before his return here, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hailed the outcome, stressing that now scenarios of an imminent Greek default and Grexit were things of the past.

The path to restore growth in the debt-laden country was paved with creditors’ further aid over the next three years, Xinhua quoted him as saying.

However, the leftist premier admitted that the framework of the 82-86 billion euro package ($91-95 billion) through the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) would be difficult to implement.

But the alternative for Greece was a dive into chaos, stressed the government, and that a bad deal was better than no deal.

According to the official euro summit statement released in Brussels at the end of the marathon 17-hour talks, Greece must legislate starting as of Tuesday sets of harsh measures and reforms as prerequisites to the release of any aid.

The first round of legislation, which should be passed by the Greek assembly by Wednesday, includes the streamlining of the VAT system and measures to improve the sustainability of the pension system.

The Greek government is due to table the agreement and the first draft bills containing these policies to the Greek parliament on Monday night, Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, a new Eurogroup meeting was expected to discuss the issue of short-term financing so that Greece can cover its financing obligations in July and August.

The European Central Bank (ECB) was also expected to hold a teleconference to examine the possibility of resuming the flow of Emergency Liquidity Assistance funds to Greek banks so that they reopen.

Based on the ECB’s decision, the Greek government is to announce whether the extraordinary bank holiday, which started on June 29 along with capital controls, would be extended again from Tuesday.

The focus here is on Tsipras’ next initiatives. After a hard battle in Athens, the government needs to manage strong reactions starting from within the ruling coalition and the Syriza party.

Opposition pro-euro parties, which authorized the premier to negotiate with lenders on Saturday in a critical vote in parliament, welcomed the Monday result as a breather for the Greek economy and society.

In a rare sight for Greek politics, political opponents such as centrist River party chief Stavros Theodorakis congratulated Tsipras on making a “brave decision”.

Media commentators, financial experts, heads of chambers such as National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce President Vassilis Korkidis and ordinary Greeks in the streets of Athens also voiced relief that the worst had been avoided.

But representatives of trade unions and another part of the divided Greek political system and society described the agreement as “humiliating”. Among them was Syriza member and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.

“There are no winners or losers from this deal,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker underlined on Monday but critics have voiced anger regarding key points of the agreement.

They dismissed in particular the development of a scaled up privatization programme that foresees the transfer of 50 billion euros (about $55.5) worth of Greek assets to an independent fund to be used for the repayment of the recapitalization of banks, the decrease of the Greek debt load and investments.

Others noted that Athens did not secure a strong immediate commitment to a debt relief, pointing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement that a “nominal haircut on the Greek debt load was out of the question”.

The current defense minister and leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks, which holds 13 seats in the 300-member assembly, has expressed strong objections to the outcome of the six-month negotiations with lenders.


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